60 for Employee Free Choice?
At CPAC yesterday, Newt Gingrich predictably demonized the Employee Free Choice Act, calling it "a mortal threat to American freedom." Somebody should arrest it! But the more interesting admission came from Mitch McConnell, who intimated that Arlen Specter is a lost cause when it comes up for a vote.
RedState.com caught up with McConnell at the CPAC conference and asked him about the coming Employee Free Choice battle. McConnell said he was “somewhat optimistic” about keeping his troops together. However, referring to the three GOP Senators who voted for the stimulus package, he added:
“I’ll say I’m hoping for an epiphany for [Specter]. Senators Snowe and Collins will be with us.”
That strongly suggests that McConnell has concluded that this key GOP vote will likely defect to the pro-Employee Free Choice side. Since the Senate vote is expected to be hard-fought and excruciatingly close, that could conceivably prove a big deal.
That's a bit of an understatement. Specter voted for the bill last year when it came up. Assuming Al Franken makes it through the Twelve Labors of Hercules they're running up there in Minnesota, Specter and a solid Democratic caucus gets you to exactly 60 votes.
I don't know how solid the Democratic caucus is, of course. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor hail from Arkansas, home of Wal-Mart, and are probably getting a lot of pressure to vote no. What Harry Reid ought to do is ask the caucus to vote the full Lieberman - yes on cloture, free to vote no on the final vote. There is no reason the Democrats should fear a filibuster from their own party on such an important priority. There are all kind of carrots and sticks to be offered backbenchers - committee assignments, campaign funds from the DSCC, etc. Reid does have leverage over his caucus, doesn't he? Right?